Gone are the days of simple playground structures being the talk of the block. In the coming year we will continue to see a focus on getting more creative with outdoor spaces, especially with regard to making these areas fun and useful for children. This is especially true considering the fact that kids are spending more time at home (and in the yard), and neighborhood families create “pods” of safe social interaction for children.

Sure, you could purchase a simple swingset from the nearest big box store, assemble it, and set the kids loose to play. But with a bit more creativity, you could create an outdoor space that continues to spark imagination and provides for a much greater range of activities. Zip lines, climbing walls, ninja warrior courses, and monkey bars set between trees will keep children busy and active.

As you design your outdoor play space, keep these ideas in mind.

Children’s ages. A play space that appeals to them now might quickly lose its appeal as the kids get older. Design spaces with growth in mind, so that they continue to feel interested and challenged.

Versatility. When you can, focus on utilizing elements that serve more than one purpose. For example, a volleyball court for older kids can also be used as a sandbox by younger ones. A simple patio can provide a space for chalk murals, hopscotch, roller skating, and more.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. As we increasingly pay attention to our own environmental impacts, the idea of reusing and recycling materials makes more sense than ever. Plus, you can save money, too! An old tire becomes a swing, tree stumps transform into an obstacle course, and scavenged playground equipment can be made new with a few repairs.

Their own little garden. Kids can learn a lot by watching plants grow. Consider setting aside space in your garden for them to plant their favorite flowers or grow their own food.

Consider down time, too. Bundles of energy that they are, even kids need down time. Consider a child-sized picnic table for enjoying meals outdoors, a cozy reading nook, or a relaxing hammock for naps in the shade.

This year, parents will continue to incorporate more environmental and natural play elements into the yard, in order to encourage investigation of the local natural environment. As you redesign your backyard, contact us to discuss your plans. We’ll be happy to help you turn your (and your children’s) dreams into reality!